Look & Listen to Marine Wildlife in Moreton Bay with Data Science


Moreton Bay along Moreton Island

A project that combines maths, stats, and data science with some very cool technology picks up the support of the Moreton Bay Foundation.

Called "Living and Playing Together”, its main aim is to understand better the impacts of seasonal human recreational activities on the marine wildlife in Moreton Bay.

The team leader is ACEMS Associate Investigator Dr Julie Vercelloni from QUT.


Courtesy: Dr Chris Roelfsema

“Moreton Bay is one the most popular regions in Queensland and recreational activities include fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, dolphin-feeding and boating as well as intense seasonal whale-watching during the winter months,” said Dr Vercelloni.

“We want to improve awareness on how everyone can better share the space with the extraordinary biodiversity of the Bay.”

The project will use the latest technology to capture marine wildlife and human activities above and below the water to create an interactive digital platform called “Living Together.”

“We’ll use underwater 360-degree cameras, underwater drones, underwater acoustic sensors and daily satellite imagery to capture the data we need,” says Dr Vercelloni.

“We’ll then combine that data to create virtual environments that are engaging for people.”


Dr Julie Vercelloni

To help researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation put a call for projects. Out of 19 submissions, the Moreton Bay Foundation chose the “Living and Playing Together” project as one of only two projects it will help fund with about $35,000.

“This project has a huge potential to connect people with ‘what lies beneath’ Moreton Bay. Its use of contemporary technology will allow people to see and hear the underwater world of Moreton Bay via a web portal, increasing community awareness and commitment to preserving its unique biodiversity and cultural values for the future,” says the Moreton Bay Foundation CEO Suzie Christensen.

Moreton Bay is home to an incredible array of iconic marine species like dugongs, turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, sharks and rays.


Courtesy: Dr Chris Roelfsema

Dr Vercelloni says the support of the Moreton Bay Foundation will allow her team to start recording the wildlife and human activities during the upcoming spring and summer seasons. That will lead to the development of a pilot version of the Living Together platform.

“The Moreton Bay is a fascinating biological meeting place for marine wildlife with an exceptional Indigenous cultural heritage, and it is next door. I am very excited to have the opportunity to use data science to help preserve it and improve public awareness on how to share the space,” says Dr Vercelloni.

Other team members include ACEMS Deputy Director and QUT Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Dr Angela Dean (QUT), Dr Emma Kennedy (UQ), Dr Chris Roelfsema (UQ), Darren Burns (Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation), Associate Professor Kate Thompson (QUT), Gavin Winter (QUT), Professor Peter Anderson (QUT),  Dr Ross Dwyer (USC), and Jodi Salmond (Reef Check Australia).

ACEMS Media Officer: Tim Macuga 07 3138 6741 timothy.macuga@qut.edu.au